Speakers and panel discussions, birding, river cleanups and tree plantings are just a few of the earth-focused activities planned for the month of April at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
Earth Month 2021: Building Intersectional Understanding and Action, is composed of virtual and in-person events. The theme recognizes the connections between the environment, the economy and human well-being.
“Earth Month is important because it is a time when we reaffirm and deepen our University’s commitment to sustainability―the call to create a world where all people can lead healthy, fulfilling lives, within ecological limits,” said Stephanie Spehar, director of the UWO Sustainability Institute for Regional Transformations (SIRT). “Sustainability is really a deep responsibility we have to each other, a commitment we have made that will take a lot of work and creativity and effort, but is absolutely the right thing to do.”
Spehar said the need to act on issues like climate change, is urgent. UWO has sustainability as one of its foundational elements and students, she said, often are the ones advocating the hardest for change.
She hopes everyone will take a moment to attend one of the events and find issues that resonate with them and inspire them to get involved.
Speher said environmental degradation―including air and water pollution―and economic inequality that includes high rates of child poverty in the U.S., have common roots in an economic system that encourages short-term profits over human and environmental well-being. Environmental harms, she added, disproportionally affect communities of color―often living in heavily polluted areas or in areas that experience the highest increase in temperature from climate change.
Embrace the outdoors
Organizers of the annual celebration at UWO have filled a month-long schedule with both virtual and many outdoor events, weather permitting. See the full calendar.
“We have definitely heard from the campus community the desire to get outside and do something, even more this year than in previous years when folks are looking to get outside their four walls,” said Brad Spanbauer, campus sustainability officer.
He noted that there will be tree-plantings at all three UWO campuses and litter cleanup as part of a Litterati challenge hosted by the Fox Cities campus. In addition, UWO is one of the sites for the annual Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance major cleanup event on Saturday, May 1.
Sampling of events
- Saturday, April 3: Sunny skies are forecast for a birdwatching event from 8 to 10 a.m. at Picnic Point at Asylum Bay, located on the north side of Oshkosh. The trail winds through a variety of habitats including grasslands, wetlands, forest and ends at the shores of Lake Winnebago.
- Monday, April 12: Listen from 7 to 8 p.m. to Amanda Nguyen, chief executive officer and founder of Rise, a social movement accelerator. The daughter of Vietnamese refugees and a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Nguyen penned her own civil rights into existence and saw the unanimous passage of her Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights. To date, 27 bills have been created and modeled from her federal law. Nguyen has been awarded many honors, including a Top 100 Global Thinker by Foreign Policy and The Tempest’s #1 Woman of Color Trailblazer. This event is part of Asian Heritage Month, Earth Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Social Justice Week programming. More information and link.
- Thursday, April 15: Eco-Anxiety Workshop from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the Outdoor Classroom along the Fox River. (Rain location in Sage 1235) Anyone worried about the impacts of changing climate or depressed by the news of hurricanes, forest fires and other climate catastrophes, can learn strategies to manage and channel disruptive feelings. The Counseling Center and Environmental Studies Program serve as co-hosts.
- Tuesday, April 20: Orchard planting near UWO parking Lot 11 takes place from 10:20 to 11 a.m., following a tree grafting class from 9:10-10:10 in HS 202. An inaugural scion wood exchange fair, takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Sage Hall courtyard. Those interested in grafting rare heirloom fruit trees or those with wood to exchange with other fruit tree enthusiasts are encouraged to attend. A few distributors of scion wood will be on hand with root stock and scion wood to take home. Enter through doors off Parking Lot 7.
- Thursday, April 22: Keynote speaker Dina Gilio-Whitaker, author of As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, from Colonization to Standing Rock, is featured in a special virtual event from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Gilio-Whitaker will discuss highlights from the book and will include a discussion of Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge in the event co-sponsored by SIRT, the Intertribal Student Council, English Club and Sigma Tau Delta.
- Thursday, April 29: Tree planting and mulching from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with UWO grounds staff on the Oshkosh campus, in observance of Arbor Day on April 30. Anyone interested in helping may Spanbauer or fill out this form.
- Saturday, May 1: Volunteers are needed from 9 to 11:30 a.m. for the Fox-Wolf Watershed Cleanup event at the UW Oshkosh riverfront area. Volunteers will meet at Culver Family Welcome Center parking lot. Bags and gloves will be provided and instructions given at 9 a.m. at the meeting spot. Register here.